The initial reports regarding the upcoming Joker origin movie from writer / director Todd Phillips noted that the project was loosely inspired by the Martin Scorsese classic King of Comedy — so it makes sense that Scorsese himself was persuaded to executive produce Joker. According to a new report, that King of Comedy connection is getting a little more obvious, as Robert De Niro is officially in talks to join Joaquin Phoenix in the DC standalone film.

Deadline reports that De Niro is close to signing on for Joker, which will explore the origins of Batman’s arch-nemesis and the Clown Prince of Crime. Joaquin Phoenix, who most recently appeared in You Were Never Really Here and Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, will play the title role in the movie, which centers on “a man disregarded by society who becomes the ultimate supervillain.” Atlanta and Deadpool 2 star Zazie Beetz is also in talks for a role.

Rumor has it Joker — which is not part of the main DC Films canon — is set in the ’80s and, like Alan Moore’s controversial graphic novel The Killing Joke, depicts the eponymous villain as a failed stand-up comic. (Those King of Comedy comparisons should be making sense now.) De Niro will not be playing a villain, but his character is described as being “a formative figure in the development” of Phoenix’s Joker.

Scott Silver (The Fighter) co-wrote the script with director Todd Phillips, best known for Old School and The Hangover movies — though he did surprise audiences (somewhat) with the 2016 dark comedy crime thriller War Dogs, starring Jonah Hill and Miles Teller. Joker will be released under a new DC Films offshoot, which will allow filmmakers to explore various DC comic book characters outside of the Justice League timeline; an alternate universe, of sorts. The film, which begins shooting this fall, will be released on October 4, 2019.